An experienced Registered Nurse, Victoria sees her role as an amazing opportunity to help patients and whānau through nursing support, education and advice, and increase awareness of bowel cancer.
Her role mainly includes supporting those diagnosed with bowel cancer or their close family members through the charity’s confidential nurse support service. Victoria also administrates the Bowel Cancer NZ’s patient support group, a closed Facebook group for those who have been diagnosed with bowel cancer and their whānau.
“Through my previous work in palliative care, I had noticed Bowel Cancer NZ’s outreach within the community through education and awareness. People are talking more about bowel cancer now – thanks to the screening programme and awareness of the support available. The work Bowel Cancer NZ is doing is already making a difference, and that’s only going to grow.”
Victoria believes the screening programme has really helped raise awareness of bowel cancer and helped people overcome the stigma if they do get it. “Having it highlighted regularly in the media has helped – it’s been good for New Zealanders and led to an even greater need for our services at Bowel Cancer NZ.”
“I’m meeting younger and younger people being diagnosed with bowel cancer all the time – those in their 20s or 30s. It’s really tragic. Part of our remit is to help GPs become more aware that young people can get bowel cancer too – it’s not just an older adults disease.”
“My advice is that if you’re worried about your symptoms, even if they only seem minor, go and see your GP,” she says. “Some people may find it embarrassing to talk about their bowel issues, but it’s your health on the line – and your sanity. Your GP can run some very basic tests and follow these up as and where needed.”
Victoria is a ‘people person’ who loves helping others. Warm, approachable and easy-to-talk-to, she says she’s only ever had ‘the best’ patients and families. “If you’ve been diagnosed with bowel cancer, or someone you love has, don’t be afraid to reach out for support,” she says. “I can point you in the right direction, help you figure out all that confusing bowel cancer terminology and the effects of different treatments – and even help you work out what to say to your family. Just email me: I’m here to help.”
Victoria has slotted in well within the Bowel Cancer NZ team and is busy answering calls through their new 0800 BCNZ NURSE (226 968) number as well as via the live Chatbot on their website.
None of the support Victoria offers cancer patients would be possible without Dry July NZ's generous support.